Sunday, April 10, 2011

Field trip time!

Don't worry, you aren't going far. By Wednesday, I want you to have gotten your body into a UW library and written about it. I want you to:

* Use the search engine at the library website ( to find a book related to your topic. It may be that you have to be a little creative - if, for example, you were writing something about the recent protests around the capitol, you obviously wouldn't be able to find a book written on them. But you could find a book on the history of political protest, or collective bargaining/unions, etc.
* In that book's record, figure out which library it's in.
* Now go to that library and find it. I don't care if you check it out, just find it on the shelf.
* Now blog about it. Your blog should have a short story of your search (both for a book to look up and the book itself), a description of where it was INCLUDING what was nearby it on the shelf, its Library of Congress call number, and a bibliographic entry for your book.

I'm doing this not because I hate you all and want you to suffer, but because I think this is genuinely a useful, interesting exercise. In my own research, I've found that, half the time, finding one relevant book and then just looking on the shelves around it is incredibly useful in terms of finding other texts and ideas. It's true that I work with literature, so I don't have to worry as much about making sure I'm reading super-recent stuff, like you do when you work in the sciences. Regardless, it's still a good thing to become oriented with the physical space of the library.

Here's mine:

This was actually kind of hard for me, because I already have most of what I need to do my writing already checked out. I decided that I should probably do some reading about what other people have said about one of the absolutely monstrous texts that I'll be writing on later in my dissertation: Leslie Marmon Silko's Almanac of the Dead. I did a search in Madcat for the title of the book, and came up with a couple of promising leads. One in particular seemed really interesting - a book of essays about American Indian writing. Only one of the essays in it is actually about Silko, but the book as a whole is about looking at how different countries react to indigenous writings and concerns, which is kind of what I'm working on.

Book was in Memorial Library, which I know pretty well, particularly this area of the stacks. I made it up to the correct floor (thankfully, almost everything I ever need is on either floor 2 or 2M, so I don't have far to go). I found the book on the shelf and snagged it, then looked around it. It was, naturally, in the middle of a big clump of books all about reading American indigenous literature. Some of the books were ones I actually already own - I bought them rather than checking them out so I could scribble notes all over them and not have to worry about having to return them. There was one nearby that I grabbed as well: Gerald Vizenor's Fugitive Poses: Native American Scenes of Absence and Presence. Vizenor's kind of a big deal in the field, and while looking at the index didn't show much that was related to specific books I'm working on, I still think looking at it as sort of a general background thing will be useful. I checked them both out.

The actual original book I went to find was:

Pulitano, Elvira. Transatlantic Voices: Interpretations of Native North American Literatures. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2007.

Its call number is: PS153 I52 T73 2007

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